Manchester City manager Mark Hughes has stressed that he has no plans to sell defender Micah Richards in the summer.
Richards has struggled for form this campaign and he was linked with a move away from Eastlands in the winter transfer window.
Recent reports of a rift between Richards and Hughes have led to further speculation that a transfer could be in the offing.
However, Hughes, who is expected to strengthen his side at the end of the season, insists that the 20-year-old remains in his plans.
He said in the Sunday Mirror: "We are not looking to sell Micah Richards. There are certain players here who have a real empathy for the club and Micah is one of those.
"He has come through the ranks here and he is the kind of player we want to keep because I feel we need to build a team around players who have that bond with City.
"In the last three or four games Micah has been getting back to something like the level he can produce.
"It has been an extremely inconsistent season for him - like it has for a number of our players - but people have to understand how young he still is.
"Since Micah burst on the scene he has had nothing but success and this season people have questioned him.
"That can be hard for young players to take but it is part of the learning process. He will be stronger as a person and as a player.
"You can see he is coming out the other side of it now. Next season I expect he will be a better player."